Casting stones

As nearly every Bible translation points out in the footnotes, the passage in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery isn’t found in the earliest manuscripts.  Therefore, it may not have been in the original writings of the Bible.*

It is a memorable passage and doesn’t contradict other doctrines, but neither does it add anything that isn’t taught elsewhere.  The problems start when people twist the passage to say things that aren’t there.  Here’s the text:

The Woman Caught in Adultery — John 8:2 – 11

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.  The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst  they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her,”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

If someone drew the conclusion that Jesus was once again clever and outwitted the Pharisees who were trying to trap him, that would be fine. Or that He upheld the law on capital punishment (you must have two witnesses). Or that He outed their hypocrisy in not bringing the man. Those would all be good.

The main misuse of the passage is by those who exclaim, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone!,” when trying to shut up anyone making a judgment they disagree with.  But as you may have noticed, that objection is self-refuting and ironically hypocritical: They imply that all judging is wrong, but they are judging you for judging.  But there is more.

Jesus was referring to real stones that would kill the person. Real stones thrown at a real person until he or she was really dead.  Criticizing someone else hardly rises to the level of killing him by stoning. Flippantly equating death by stoning with mere criticism is beyond hyperbole.

And even if Jesus said the part about not casting the first stone, it wouldn’t have meant, “Never say adultery is wrong!”  Note that the passage also says, “Go and sin no more.”

Those advocating the “judging = casting stones” view typically make all sorts of judgments, including advocating hate speech / hate crime laws.  But shouldn’t they be consistent and not judge anyone for anything, ever?

The passage is also misused to oppose capital punishment in principle.  But again, Jesus upheld the law: If there had been two witnesses present, stoning would have been appropriate at that time.

Keep in mind that any criticisms of this post will be considered stone-casting on your part.  And you know how wrong that is!

* Skeptics like Bart Ehrman like to say that this passage and the “long ending” of the Gospel of Mark reduce our confidence that the original writings were the word of God, but they are really proof that the system works.  Based on the work of textual critics on literally thousands of ancient manuscripts, we can be very confident about what the original writings said.

Yet another passage that theological Liberals ignore or don’t understand

I often point out how false teachers abuse scripture to advance their religion-disguised-as-politics agenda.  Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis likes to point out how there are over 2,000 verses about money in the Bible.  That may be true, but it doesn’t mean he understands them.  False teachers like him and Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie think that Jesus taught to ask “Caesar” (i.e., the government) to borrow from others to give away in the name of the oh-so-generous false teachers.

Here’s another verse they ignore or don’t understand, courtesy of  The Servility of the Religious Left « runlevel five(pointer).

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7 English Standard Version

Chuck Currie and the United Church of Christ want to make a lot more slaves. In fact, if they have their way,  the entire nation will become further enslaved to foreign lenders, by insisting that we continue to raise the debt ceiling. Moreover, in response to calls for increased fiscal responsibility, they are demanding an increase in taxes.

The problem is, Currie is not alone in his views. He is joined by a host of other advocates for fiscal irresponsibility that reaches the level of forced servitude for the American people. Such deluded individuals consider spending beyond our means as a nation a good thing. Even elected officials such as Pete Stark go so far to say that the bigger our national debt, the wealthier we are.

Currie should know better. What is truly alarming is his willingness to sacrifice future generations, including his two children, on the altar of the idol of Entitlements and the long-discredited Social Gospel.

Indeed, people who can’t vote or haven’t been born yet will be saddled with the debt that these false teachers advocated in the name of Christ.  Just as God points out in Proverbs, they will be slaves to their lenders.  But at least the borrowers Solomon had in mind were directly responsible for their actions.  No one borrowed in their name and without their approval.

Worse yet, the false teachers’ use of the borrowings is nearly always counterproductive.  It is lose-lose with these guys.

False teachers think Jesus taught to borrow money to give away

No, it is actually worse than that.  False teachers* think that Jesus taught to ask “Caesar” (i.e., the government) to borrow from others to give away in the name of the oh-so-generous false teachers.  And the others can’t vote or may not have been born yet.  Call that what you like, but it isn’t Christianity.  Here’s the latest example: Raise the Debt Ceiling & Protect our Communities.

Friendly reminder: Jesus taught to give your own money, and to do it cheerfully and not under compulsion (2 Cor. 9).   Run, don’t walk, from “Christians” who teach otherwise.

*False teachers include people like Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis and race-baiting Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie

Rob Bell = false teacher

Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, is full of false teachings about Christianity, primarily in saying that everyone ends up in Heaven regardless of how they respond to Jesus. I always had concerns about Bell’s teachings, but like many false teachers he started off a little more subtle and became more openly false.

In an interview on MSNBC he says that how we respond to Christ is “terribly” relevant and has a “tremendous bearing” while at the same time saying everyone goes to Heaven. He is disingenuous in saying that since some people disagree then all positions are correct. He is a typical passive-aggressive postmodern in acting like he’s just asking questions when he obviously has an agenda.

I highly recommend this review by Kevin DeYoung: God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins”. It is very thorough. I liked this excerpt noted at the Stand to Reason blog:

Over and over, Bell refers to the “staggering number” of people just like him, people who can’t believe the message they used to believe, people who want nothing to do with traditional Christianity, people who don’t want to leave the faith but can’t live in the faith they once embraced. I have no doubt there are many people like this inside and outside our churches. Some will leave the faith altogether. Others—and they are in the worse position—will opt for liberalism, which has always seen itself as a halfway house between conservative orthodoxy and secular disbelief.

But before we let Bell and others write the present story, we must remember that there are also a “staggering number” of young people who want the straight up, unvarnished truth. They want doctrinal edges and traditional orthodoxy. They want no-holds-barred preaching. They don’t want to leave traditional Christianity. They are ready to go deeper into it

Love Wins has ignited such a firestorm of controversy because it’s the current fissure point for a larger fault-line. As younger generations come up against an increasingly hostile cultural environment, they are breaking in one of two directions—back to robust orthodoxy (often Reformed) or back to liberalism. The neo-evangelical consensus is cracking up. Love Wins is simply one of many tremors.

Also see this by Pastor Timothy: Rob Bell: False Teacher… Worthless Pastor… Savage Wolf. It includes a link to a video where even an MSNBC reporter can see through Bell’s inconsistencies and addresses other false teachings by Bell.

But Mr. Bell would have us believe that eventually God’s love will win out and all those people in hell will be freed and invited into heaven. This ignores God’s eternal decrees of election (Ephesians 1:3-14). It makes God out to be me nothing more that a cosmic hand wringer who is hopeless with the lives of men on this side of glory. It also makes God out to be a liar for He would be contradicting His own word, which He cannot do. Poor Mr. Bell. He is trying so hard to be liked and make God likeable, that He makes God out to be a liar in the process. To make God out to be a liar is to show that the truth is not in us (1 John 1:10). Since this is true, the truth is not in Bell. He needs to repent.

I think that what Mr. Bell also needs to do is go into sales, selling used cars and quit trying to pass himself off as a pastor who cares. He does not care. He is very hateful towards those whom he pastors. He needs to be rebuked in the harshest terms, because he is leading his flock into everlasting punishment. I know, he is such a nice guy. And Satan presented himself as an angel of light too. Real pastors and those who love our Savior, get angry at guys like Bell. He truly is a savage wolf. What Bell does is wicked beyond hope.

The worst part is that Bell displays the typical postmodern / “emergent church” deceptiveness, pretending to just be asking questions when he is obviously pointing to concrete views of his. But this (sort of) gives him an out when challenged and it falsely paints his critics as being against asking questions. Questions are great, provided you give correct answers based on the Bible – which Bell doesn’t.

I heard that Bell’s book is #8 on the overall Amazon best seller list. Ugh. Too many of those claiming to be Christians in the U.S. have notoriously bad discernment when it comes to things like this.

This is a timeless theme:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

People love to hear that everyone goes to Heaven. Sort of takes away the need to evangelize and defend the faith, doesn’t it? Makes it lots easier to be loved by the world, doesn’t it?

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

I’ll close with this from DeYoung:

Bad theology hurts real people. So of all the questions raised in the book, the most important question every reader must answer is this: is it true? Whatever you think of all the personalities involved on whatever side of the debate, that’s the one question that cannot be ignored. Is Love Wins true to the word of God? That’s the issue. Open a Bible, pray to God, listen to the faithful Christians of the past 2000 years, and answer the question for yourself.

Delight or deception, suffering or salvation—yes, even heaven or hell—may hang in the balance.

Do they really care what Jesus would do?

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie asked, “What would Jesus cut?” in an attempt to influence the reductions required for the U.S. budget.  Aside from the major issues with not only the ineffectiveness but the counterproductive nature of so many U.S. welfare programs, I think it is fair to ask if Chuck and other false teachers like Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistributionWallis really care what Jesus thinks.

Perhaps they could share their church budgets with us and show us how much they give out of their own pockets to the poor, even as their denominations keep shrinking (the UCC loses people year after year – must be the ejector seats!).  Do they just spend the donations on their own buildings and such, or do they help the needy in a significant way?  If they aren’t setting a good example with their own funds,  why should we take their advice on how to spend other people’s money?

Jesus said many things that these false teachers don’t take seriously.

Jesus taught that not only was murder wrong, but even the hatred that leads to murder.  He taught to protect the weak and the “least of these.  Yet the false teachers are pro-legalized abortion and even pro-taxpayer-funded abortion.  If they think Jesus supports either of those they are worshiping a fake Jesus.

And they support groups like Planned Parenthood, which in addition to killing the unborn systematically hide statutory rape and underage sex slavery.  That is the opposite of love and caring for the least of these.

Jesus taught not to even look at others lustfully and that marriage was designed for one man and one woman.  Yet these false teachers support all manner of perversions, oppose censorship of destructive materials, support “same-sex marriage,” and more.

Jesus said that Hell is real, but the false teachers don’t believe that.

Jesus said He is the only way to salvation, but the false teachers don’t believe that.

Jesus said He was God, but the false teachers don’t believe that.

Jesus taught to give your own money to help your neighbors, not to ask Caesar to take from neighbor A to give to neighbor B.  But the false teachers believe the opposite.

You get the idea.  So why should we think they really care about what Jesus says now?

Don’t let them get away with stealing the name of Jesus while teaching the opposite of what He did on nearly every important topic.  Run, don’t walk, from theologically Liberal churches.  They are just providing shortcuts to Hell.